You Might Have to Wait a Bit for a Blockbuster
Bond. Twilight. The Earth Stands Still.
Those are just a few of the anticipated tent pole features Hollywood will serve up this fall, particularly in the Thanksgiving-Christmas season. Typically, fall films do not have the attendance clout of those in the summer, but at least you’ll be virtually free of super heroes and all-action, little-story development scenarios.
Curtis McCall, president and CEO of Marquee Cinemas, does not forecast another blockbuster until “Quantum of Solace” (James Bond, Nov. 1), “Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince” (release postponed), “Twilight” (Dec. 12), and “Bolt,” a 3D, CGI Disney computer-animated dog story featuring the voices of Miley Cyrus and John Travolta (Nov. 28).
McCall praised “Dark Knight” as the summer’s best, but he doesn’t see the new Batman flick surpassing all time leader “Titanic.” After four weeks “Dark Knight” has crusaded into an awestruck $445 million. It would need $600 million to tie the shipwreck movie from 1997.
Still, “Dark Knight’s” figures are at 2008 movie prices. The Web site Box Office Mojo calculates the highest grossing films and converts them to 2008 dollars. “Dark Knight” will have surpassed the 1987 Michael Keaton first “Batman” on the “adjusted” charts by the time you read this. But adjusting the dollars/admissions puts “Titanic” in the $908 million category. It’s likely also to pass “Spiderman,” which has an adjusted gross of $491 million.
What’s on top? According to the Mojo, four films have amassed an equivalent of a billion dollar gross in their theatrical releases: “Gone With the Wind,” “Star Wars,” “The Sound of Music” and “E.T.”
Back to fall, Marquee and other theatres with digital capacity will continue their experimentation with “niche” programming, such as opera, concerts and sporting events. Response has been “spotty” ranging from very good to average, but part of the strategy involves “getting the customer used to coming to your theatre for extra events,” McCall said. This fall, you can, in his words, expect more “big games on the big screen, more concerts and more live events.”
(Note: Release dates are tentative as of publication; not all films will play in all areas; films slated for a New York or Los Angeles only “limited” release are not included.)
“College” — Start the school year right, catch a comedy of high school seniors attempting to blend as freshmen only to be recruited by a rowdy frat as pledges.
“Disaster Movie” — Assembled by those responsible for “Date Movie,” “Scary Movie,” and “Meet the Spartans,” a group of attractive 20-somethings dodge every natural disaster known to man or woman. The movie includes lampoons of “Indiana Jones,” “Iron Man” and “High School Musical.”
“Bangkok Dangerous” — Nicholas Cage, a hit man, lands in Bangkok to execute four hits only to fall in love with a local woman and bond with his errand boy.
Others: “Accidental Husband” (Uma Thurman, Colin Firth, Sam Shepard); “Passengers” (Anne Hathaway, Patrick Wilson).
“Burn After Reading” — The Coen Brothers lure Brad Pitt and George Clooney into a comedy about two gym employees finding a disc with the memoirs of a CIA agent on it.
“Righteous Kill” — 50 Cent, Robert DeNiro and Al Pacino search for a serial killer who leaves four line poems justifying the murder. Could it be the Big Apple has a vigilante taking care of what the justice system failed to do?
Others: “Tyler Perry’s The Family That Preys” and “The Women”
“Lakeview Terrace” — Samuel L. Jackson stars as a member of Los Angeles’ finest attempting to scare an interracial couple (Karry Washington, Patrick Wilson) out of his neighborhood.
“My Best Friend’s Girl” — How do you win back a gal who dumped you? Get her fixed up with the worst jerk, then wait for her to come crying back to you. But when Tank’s (Dane Cook) hired by his best friend to go out on a lousy date with Alexis (Kate Hudson), well, the two really like each other.
Others: “Igor” (voices of John Cussack, Molly Shannon); “Ghost Town” (Greg Kinnear, Ricky Gervais); “Taken” (Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace).
“Eagle Eye” — Reuniting the director and the hot dude from “Disturbia,” D. J. Caruso directs Shia LaBeouf in a Hitchcock type thriller where a dude and his mom fall unwittingly into a terror cell planning an assassination.
Others: “Nights in Rodanthe” (Richard Gere and Diane Lane); “Miracle at St. Anna” (Spike Lee directs, Derek Luke, Michael Ealy and Laz Alonso star); “Blindness” (Mark Ruffalo, Julianne Moore, Sandra Oh, Danny Glover)
“Beverly Hills Chihuahua” — Combining live action and animation, the voice of Drew Barrymore speaks for Chloe, a snobby Beverly Hills little pooch who’s lost in Mexico and needs to find California.
“The Express” — Ernie Davis (Rob Brown) plays a high school football star who becomes the first African-American to win the Heisman Trophy.
Others: “How to Lose Friends & Alienate People” (Kristen Dunst, Simon Pegg); “Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist” (Michael Cera, Kat Dennings); “Religulous” (Bill Maher)
“Quarantine” — A news crew enters an apartment building as police officers seek the source of a woman’s screams. The victim has an unknown disease and the CDC locks everyone in the structure. The next morning, all that’s left is the television camera videotape.
“Sex Drive” — A high school senior (Josh Zuckerman) assembles his brother’s ‘69 GTO and best friends (Clark Duke, Amanda Crew) for a Chicago to Knoxville trip to hook up with a gal he “met” online.
Others: “Body of Lies” (Leonardo DiCaprio, Russell Crowe in a Ridley Scott spy thriller); “City of Ember” ( a fantasy adventure about an underground city that’s a mix of “Truman Show” and “Dark City” — for kids?)
“Flash of Genius” — The inventor of intermittent windshield wipers (Greg Kinnear) takes on the U.S. automotive industry that stole his devise. Based on a true story.
Others: “Max Payne” (Mark Wahberg, Mila Kunis); “Secret Life of Bees” (Dakota Fanning, Queen Latifah, Jennifer Hudson).
“High School Musical 3: Senior Year” — Troy and Gabriella (Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens) struggle with college separation anxieties, the current Wildcats’ sports season and, of course, a spring musical.
“He’s Just Not That Into You” — Considering the number of beautiful ladies (Jennifer Aniston, Jennifer Connelly, Drew Barrymore, Scarlett Johansson), will this be a fall “Sex in the City” reprise? Maybe, but it’s simply a romantic comedy about the challenges of reading or misreading human behavior in a relationship.
“Brothers Bloom” — Adrien Brody, Mark Ruffalo, Rachel Weisz and Rinko Kikuchi star in a flick about con men swindling millionaires with complex factions filled with lust and intrigue. First trailer released during the Comic-Con.
Others: “Pride and Glory” (Colin Farrell, Edward Norton); “Saw V” (yes, there will be a sequel); “Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas in 3-D” (yes, it will likely play in West Virginia this year).
“Zack & Miri Make a Porno” — Advance buzz suggests Kevin Smith and Elizabeth Banks have a comedic gold mine here. The plot: Money’s tough to obtain so two best friends show up for a porno casting call É and are cast with each other. Heard film had to be trimmed to keep it from receiving the dreaded NC-17.
“Quantum of Solace” — Picking up where “Casino Royale” left off, Bond (Daniel Craig) must stop a businessman who wants total control of one of the world’s most precious resources. Olga Kurylenko is his eye-candy co-star for this outing.
“Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa” — Psychotic penguins, Alex the Lion (Ben Stiller’s voice) and friends board a not necessarily repaired plane that touches down in the African plains, not New York City.
“Soul Men” — The late Bernie Mac and Samuel L. Jackson unite as two estranged soul singing legends returning to the Apollo Theatre to honor a recently deceased bandleader.
“The Soloist” (Jamie Foxx, Robert Downey Jr.).
“Bolt” (voices of Miley Cyrus, John Travolta); “The Road” (Viggo Mortensen, Charlize Theron); “Transporter 3” (Jason Statham, Robert Knepper); “Four Christmases” (Reese Witherspoon, Mary Steenburgen); “Nothing Like the Holidays” (John Leguizamo, Freddy Rodriguez).
With dates subject to alteration by the studios, here are some of this year’s holiday offerings: “Frost/Nixon” (Frank Langella, Michael Sheen, Kevin Bacon); “Punisher: War Zone” (Ray Stevenson); “Twilight” (Kristen Stewart, Billy Burke); “Seven Pounds” (Will Smith, Woody Harrelson); “Day the Earth Stood Still” (Keanu Reeves, Jennifer Connelly); “Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Brad Pitt); “Yes Man” (Jim Carrey); “Bedtime Stories” (Adam Sandler, Keri Russell, Courtney Cox), “The Spirit” (Gabriel Macht); and “Marley & Me” (Owen Wilson, Jennifer Aniston).
Contact Tony at firstname.lastname@example.org